JamGrass Unveils New Format and 2015 Lineup

JamGrass
Image Courtesy of JamGrass

Australia’s favourite psych-rock, folk and bluegrass festival JamGrass will be celebrating its 5th year in 2015 with a brand new look and a fantastic lineup.

2015 will see JamGrass move to the outdoors, taking the music to the lush surrounds of Bundoora Park in the Northern suburbs of Melbourne. The festival will take place over Saturday 7th November and cram in as much music as your dancing shoes can take.

And then there’s the lineup.

Headlining this year’s JamGrass will be rising Australian star Harts, bringing his blend of classic 70s style rock, funk and blues to the party. Joining Harts will be some of the country’s best folk, bluegrass and psych acts including TinPan Orange, Mustered Courage, Quarry Mountain Dead Rats, Richard in Your Mind, The Morrisons, The Imprints, The String Contingent, The Stetson Family, John Flanagan Trio, Mr. Alford Country and The Drunken Poachers.

And if that’s not enough JamGrass will also be throwing a launch party the night before (Friday 6th November) at The Spotted Mallard in Brunswick that will feature The Morrisons, The Scrimshaw Four, The Ramblin’ Roses, Astro Cobalt, Little Rabbit and The Weeping Willows.

To get your hands on tickets for both JamGrass events and find out more information check out the official JamGrass site here.

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 11th April

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– New Zealand’s Tiny Ruins will be doing a very quick stop over in Australia as they head to Europe to support Neil Finn and have a handful of appearances planned. Details here

Daniel Champagne has announced a massive national tour to support his new album The Gypsy Moon – Volume II. Details here

– The new video from Huckleberry Hastings for Huckleberry Blues is odd. Details here

– Adelaide seven-piece Gemini Downs are launching their brand new EP Richard Doesn’t Roll Around Much Anymore tonight in Adelaide. Details here

Emily & The Woods have just released their new video “Helios”. Details here

– To celebrate his new single “Bones”, Dustin Tebbutt is heading out on tour this May. Details here

The Crooked Fiddle Band won the internet this week with their new clip covering the Game of Thrones theme. Details here

Andrew Bird has revealed a folky cover of the New Pornographers’ “Fake Headlines” for his contribution to the new Yellow Bird Project covers album Good People Rock. Details here

– Sydney’s Little Bastard are heading out on tour this June and July. Details here

Jinja Safari co-frontman Pepa Knight has released a very cool solo track “Rahh!”. Details here

Beverley Martyn has revealed “Reckless Jane”, the unheard track she co-wrote with Nick Drake in the 70s. Details here

Cocos Lovers released the surreal new clip for their new track “Under The Hawthorn Tree”. Details here

Johnny Flynn released his new live album Live in Washington DC this week. Details here

Drawn from Bees will be releasing their new EP Web of Thieves in May and revealed the first track “Calling You Out”. Details here

– Melbourne’s Graveyard Train have released a brand new video “Takes One To Know One”. Details here

Folk in a Box returns to Australia this weekend with shows in Perth. Details here

– Sydney duo Laura & Susie kick off their east coast tour tonight. Details here

– UK singer-songwriter Blair Dunlop released his new video “Something’s Gonna Give Way”. Details here

– Canadian singer-songwriter Lindi Ortega kicks off her Australian tour this weekend with an appearance at The Gum Ball. Details here

Interviews

“I think the folk audience really appreciate that the artists are also people and they’re human and there’s none of that “oh wow, there’s a famous person”. People just come up and they talk to you like a human being. They don’t mind if your kid’s on stage with you because they’re upset – everyone’s camping together and everyone’s on the same page”Sarah Humphreys chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

“Before the Quarry Mountain Dead Rats we all played music but a couple of the guys were more blues focused. And two of our guys now – our washboard player and our bass player – were more heavy metal influenced. And I played acoustic guitar – I never really played in a band before the Quarry Mountain Dead Rats but I could get around on a guitar. When we got together Sudsey, our banjo player, had just taught himself the banjo and he wanted something to jam along with” – Lachlan Alcorn from the Quarry Mountain Dead Rats chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

Releases This Week

Johnny Flynn
Live in Washington DCJohnny Flynn
iTunes

Other Rivers
Other RiversMatthew and the Atlas
iTunes

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

The Bad Shepherds

Bad Shepherds

Adrian Edmondson and his band of folk punks The Bad Shepherds are back in the country this month and have a bunch of gigs all over the country. Renowned for their ability to reimagine classic punk and new wave tunes in a folk style, these genre hopping shows are not to be missed.

Friday 11th April – Gum Ball Festival, Belford, NSW
Saturday 12th April – The Factory Floor, Marrickville, NSW
Sunday 13th April – Clarendon Guesthouse, Katoomba, NSW
Monday 14th April – Brass Monkey, Cronulla, NSW
Wednesday 16th April – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane, QLD
Thursday 17th April – The Soundlounge, Curumbin, QLD
Friday 18th April – Thornbury Theatre, Thornbury, VIC

Gigs Next Week

Boy & Bear
Sunday 13th April – West Coast Blues ‘n’ Roots, Fremantle Park, Perth WA
Wednesday 16th April – Mackay Entertainment Centre, Mackay, QLD
Thursday 17th April – Magnums, Airlie Beach, QLD

Byron Bay Bluesfest
Thursday 17th to Monday 21st April – Byron Bay, NSW

Christopher Coleman Collective
Friday 11th April – The Singing Gallery, McLaren Vale, SA
Saturday 12th April – A Music Warehouse Project, Adelaide, SA

Claude Hay
Friday 11th April – The Seaview Tavern, Woolgoolga, NSW
Saturday 12th April – The Loft, Gold Coast, QLD
Sunday 13th April – The Hoey Moey, Coffs Harbour, NSW

Daniel Champagne
Friday 11th April – Babushka Bar, Balarat, VIC
Saturday 12th April -Martians Café, Deans Marsh, VIC
Sunday 13th April – Bay Hotel, Mornington, VIC
Friday 18th to Saturday 19th April – Byron Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW

Devendra Banhart
Wednesday 16th April – Factory Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 17th April – The Prince Band Room, Melbourne, NSW

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
Tuesday 15th April – Palace Theatre, Melbourne, VIC

Eleanor McEvoy
Sunday 13th April – Quarterdeck, Narooma, NSW
Thursday 17th to Monday 21st April – National Folk Festival, Canberra

Folk In a Box
Friday 11th April – Wolf Lane, Perth, WA
Saturday 12th April – Wolf Lane, Perth, WA

Gemini Downs
Friday 11th April – Jade Monkey, Adelaide, SA

Gum Ball
Friday 11th and Saturday 12th April – Belford, NSW

Jake Bugg
Wednesday 16th April – Palace Theatre, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 17th April – Palace Theatre, Melbourne, VIC

Jason Isbell with Tift Merritt
Sunday 13th April – The Factory, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 16th April – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 17th April – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 18th April – Boogie Festival, Bruzzy’s Farm, Tallarook, VIC

John Butler Trio
Friday 11th April – Hordern Pavilion, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 12th April – Royal Theatre, Canberra, ACT
Sunday 13th April – Anita’s Theatre, Thirroul, NSW
Thursday 17th April – City Hall, Hobart, TAS

John Flanagan
Friday 11th April – House Concert, Copacabana, NSW
Sunday 13th April – House Concert, Wollongong, NSW

Josh Rennie-Hynes
Thursday 17th April – The Dowse Bar, Brisbane, QLD

Katie Harder and the Artful Dodgers
Friday 11th April – Tennant Creek Hotel, Tennant Creek, NT
Sunday 13th April – Monte’s, Alice Springs, NT

Kaurna Cronin and Ben Whiting
Wednesday 16th April – White Pickett Fence Sessions, Byron Bay, NSW
Thursday 17th April – The Railway Friendly, Byron Bay, NSW

Laura & Susie
Friday 11th April – Arts Space, Wodonga, VIC
Saturday 12th April – Farouk’s Olive, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 17th to Monday 21st April – National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT

Leah Flanagan
Saturday 12th April – Pavonia Place, Darwin, NT

Lindi Ortega
Saturday 12th April – Gumball Festival, Hunter Valley, NSW
Tuesday 15th April – Armidale Club, Armidale, NSW
Thursday 17th to Saturday 19th April – National Folk Festival, ACT

Mark Wilkinson
Friday 11th April – Heritage Hotel, Wollongong, NSW
Saturday 12th April – Captains, Bateman’s Bay, NSW
Thursday 17th April – Lizotte’s, Central Coast, NSW

National Folk Festival
Thursday 17th to Monday 21st April – Canberra, ACT

Paul Greene and the Other Colours
Saturday 12th April – The Commercial Hotel, Milton, NSW
Sunday 13th April – The Bird House, Wagga Wagga, NSW
Thursday 17th April – The Deniliquin Club, Deniliquin, NSW

Sally Seltmann w/ Wintercoats
Friday 11th April – Caravan Music Club, Oakleigh, VIC
Sunday 13th April – Kelvin Club, Melbourne, VIC

Seth Lakeman w/ Suzanne Vega
Monday 14th April – Powerhouse, Brisbane, QLD

Steve Smyth
Sunday 13th April – Gumball Festival, NSW
Thursday 17th April – Forresters, Sydney, NSW

The Bad Shepherds
Friday 11th April – Gumball Festival, Belford, NSW
Saturday 12th April – The Factory Floor, Marrickville, NSW
Sunday 13th April – Clarendon Guesthouse, Katoomba, NSW
Monday 14th April – Brass Monkey, Cronulla, NSW
Wednesday 16th April – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane, QLD
Thursday 17th April – The Soundlounge, Curumbin, QLD
Friday 18th April – Thornbury Theatre, Thornbury, VIC

The Beez
Friday 11th April – Candelo Arts Society, NSW

The Button Collective
Friday 11th April – The Angry Pirate, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 13th April – The Wild Rover, Sydney, NSW

The Dead Maggies
Friday 11th April – The Lass O’Gowrie, Newcastle, NSW
Saturday 12th April – Coogee Diggers, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 13th April – Union Hotel, Sydney, NSW
Monday 14th – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Wednesday 16th April – The Pier, Port Macquarie, NSW
Thursday 17th April – Hamilton Station Hotel, Newcastle, NSW

Tiny Ruins
Monday 14th April – Melbourne Folk Club, Bella Union, Melbourne, VIC
Tuesday 15th April – RRR Performance Space, Melbourne, VIC
Tuesday 15th April – 2SER Live At The Loft, Loft Bar, Sydney, NSW

Friday Folk Flashback

“Where Did You Sleep Last Night (In The Pines)” – Nirvana

This week a lot of people have been commemorating the 20th anniversary of the death of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain on the 5th April 1994. Their MTV Unplugged performance is still one of my favourites and it includes the Lead Belly track and folk standard “In The Pines” (recorded by Nirvana as “Where Did You Sleep Last Night”). The raw power in Cobain’s voice still gives me chills to this day.

National Folk Festival Interview: Quarry Mountain Dead Rats

QMDR
Image Courtesy of Quarry Mountain Dead Rats

Timber and Steel favourites the Quarry Mountain Dead Rats have been taking the folk festival scene by storm this season, already clocking in performances at Woodford and Port Fairy. They’ll be completing the holy trinity of Australian folk festivals this Easter with an appearance at The National Folk Festival so we thought it was about time to get on the phone again to Quarry Mountain Dead Rats guitarist Lachlan Alcorn to chat about folk festivals, the Melbourne bluegrass scene and the work the band are doing on their new album.

Gareth Hugh Evans: You guys just did the Port Fairy Folk Festival. How was that?

Lachlan Alcorn: I have been to Port Fairy before and it’s one of those gigs that I always held right up there with things that personally I want to play. So getting down there and actually doing it was really good. They were all really great gigs, even the ones outside of the main arena. We had really great crowd response and I think we were the only band that got an encore.

GHE: That’s awesome!

LA: As much as the stage manager was totally and utterly freaking out about the fact that we were doing an encore. Because that’s not on apparently.

GHE: Not at a folk festival. They run very tight ships there.

LA: We weren’t going to do it but the crowd kept going and the MC actually called us back on.

GHE: All of your songs are fairly quick anyway…

LA: They are so a 45 minute set for us includes 60 songs.

GHE: And you also did Woodford this time around as well. And now you’re doing The National – for me that’s the holy trinity for folk festivals in Australia. Was that a decision to really tap into the folk festival scene this season?

LA: We’ve got a booking agent and we’re always pushing him to get us into festivals because festivals are where the fun is. And that’s what we’re in it for. We just applied for all the good festivals. Port Fairy was one that we always pushed for. It isn’t something that we planned, it’s just something that happened for us in a way.

GHE: You guys are part of that Melbourne, indie, bluegrass scene…

LA: The banjo movement?

GHE: The banjo movement! Let’s call it that! A lot of those bands you don’t associate with the traditional folk festival or folk club scene in Australia. But that’s definitely changing with bands like Mustered Courage getting integrated with the folk festival scene.

LA: Before the Quarry Mountain Dead Rats we all played music but a couple of the guys were more blues focused. And two of our guys now – our washboard player and our bass player – were more heavy metal influence. And I played acoustic guitar – I never really played in a band before the Quarry Mountain Dead Rats but I could get around on a guitar. When we got together Sudsey, our banjo player, had just taught himself the banjo and he wanted something to jam along with. And then we just started playing and getting good so playing with the band you just automatically head towards that scene. And other like minded bands are. It’s where people will listen to your music, the music you’re having fun making.

GHE: Have you been to The National before?

LA: No I haven’t been to The National before. Only Daniel [Sudholz] our banjo player has as a spectator. So it’ll be our first time.

GHE: It’s a really fun festival. And the best thing about it is the Session Bar after all the gigs finish. All the musos will head into there after their shows, drink too much and jam until the morning.

LA: I have heard that the jams are good but I hadn’t heard about the session bar.

GHE: It’s basically a wide open space but once you get in there at about 1am it’s just filled with music. You see these amazing artists who’ve been playing all day coming together and playing together. And that’s a kind of scene you’re involved in in Melbourne as well.

LA: Yeah it is. As much as we don’t get out there and do that nearly enough – we used to do it a whole lot more often – it is the scene we’re in. That’s how our band started, just sitting around drinking and jamming. I reckon that’s how a lot of bands do form, getting amongst it and just jamming.

GHE: Once the folk festival season finishes for the year what’s next for the Quarry Mountain Dead Rats?

LA: At the moment we’re looking at trying to get over to the States in September. We’re trying to get a new album together as well – it seems to be a difficult task with us because we’re our own worst critics. Getting a new song together can take a while. We’ve got a couple of trips – a trip to Brissy, a trip to Sydney. That’s so far what’s in the pipe line.

GHE: Those are two pretty big things – getting an album together and heading over to the States.

LA: If we can do them both by the end of the year then I reckon we’re doing alright.

GHE: Exactly! Have you been over to the States before?

LA: No, never! It’s an exciting thought!

GHE: A lot of bands I talk to who have been over there say that they’re very welcoming and accepting of people playing their music back to them. They find it quite novel that you’re up there on stage with an Australian accent.

LA: I have heard that all music over there is generally well received because its such a big part of their culture, especially in the Nashville region and down south. It’s all about the music. Which is something that makes it exciting and comforting going over there, knowing that people will like you. You just have to find the people [laughs].

GHE: And the new album – is the process just whittling down songs or are you still writing?

LA: We’ve still got a few songs to write. We’ve got about two thirds of an album pretty sussed out. Like I saw we’re our own worst critics so they’ll never be totally sussed out even when they’re totally recorded. There’s about four more songs to put together and I would say they’re half done at the moment. We’ll look at getting those songs to where we’re happy to record them and then we will plan the actual recording. A little way away but hopefully not too far.

GHE: Awesome! Well that’s pretty much all the time we have. I hope you have a great time at The National this year.

LA: You ripper. Thank you very much.

The National Folk Festival takes place in Canberra from the 17th to 21st April. The Quarry Mountain Dead Rats’ set times for the festival are below:

Friday 18th April – 12:30pm Marquee
Saturday 19th April – 11:00pm Budawang
Sunday 20th April – 11:00pm Scrumpy

The Full National Folk Festival Program Revealed

Old Man Leudecke
Image Courtesy of Old Man Luedecke

Can you believe Easter is under two months away? Crazy times! With that in mind The National Folk Festival last week officially launched their 2014 program with well over 200 artists announced.

To recap the international contingent includes Woody Mann (USA), Damien Dempsey (Ireland), Tift Merritt (USA), Lindi Ortega (Canada), Old Man Luedecke (Above, Canada), Eleanor McEvoy (Ireland), Fásta (Quebec/Ireland/Scotland) and The Alaskan String Band (Alaska).

Not to be outdone the local additions to the lineup include a bunch of Timber and Steel favourites including Jordie Lane, Kate Fagan, The Little Stevies, Heath Cullen, The Crooked Fiddle Band, Castlecomer, The Mae Trio, The Barons of Tang, The Davidson Brothers, Tolka, Bernard Carney, The Ellis Collective, Quarry Mountain Dead Rats, Archie Roach, Joseph Tawadros Trio, Leah Flanagan, The Lurkers, Margaret Walters, Martin Pearson, The Morrisons, The Rusty Spring Syncopators, Sarah Humphreys, Sparrow Folk, The Stetson Family, Takadimi, Trouble in the Kitchen, Zeptepi and many many more.

The National Folk Festival has also announced the recipient of the National Folk Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award is folk veteran Margret Roadknight.

The National Folk Festival takes place at Exhibition Park in Canberra from the 17th to 21st April. Check out the official web site for more information.

National Folk Festival Announces Next Lineup of Artists

Tolka
Image Courtesy of Tolka

Late last week the National Folk Festival announced their latest round of artists for 2014 and it may be their most exciting yet. Joining an already packed lineup will be brand new headline additions – Australian legend Archie Roach, Canadian singer Lindi Ortega and USA blues master Woody Mann.

Joining them will be a wealth of Timber and Steel favourites including Ange Takats, Castlecomer, Leah Flanagan, The Little Stevies, Martin Pearson, Quarry Mountain Dead Rats, The Morrisons, The Crooked Fiddle Band, The Stetson Family, Tolka (above), Zeptepi and many many more.

All of these artists join an already amazing lineup – check out the offcial site here for more information. The National Folk Festival takes place at Exhibition Park in Canberra from the 17th to 21st April. The full list of new artists are below:

Archie Roach, Lindi Ortega, Woody Mann, Ange Takats & Band, Castlecomer, Danny Spooner, Dylan Hekimian, Enda Kenny, Gregory North, Grimick, Jane Thompson, Kamerunga, Karen Lynne Bluegrass Circle, Kent Daniel and Bill Wiseman, Leah Flanagan, Little Stevies, Margret RoadKnight, Martin Pearson, Mick Flanagan, Pants Down Circus, Perth Scottish Fiddlers, Quarry Mountain Dead Rats, Riley Lee and Jeff Peterson, Robert Zielinski and Cliodhna Ni Ruairc, Round Mountain Girls, Silkweed, The Morrisons, Steve and Ros Barnes, The Crooked Fiddle Band, The Rhymer from Ryde, The Stetson Family, Tolka, Ukes of Today, Wedderburn Charming Emus, Zeptepi

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 20th December

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– Tonight The Davidson Brothers will be joined by The Quarry Mountain Dead Rats and Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes for a Summer Pickin’ Party in Melbourne. Details here

– Hunter Valley festival the Gum Ball have announced their first round of artists for 2014 including Jinja Safari, Adrian Edmondson’s Bad Shepherds, Nicky Bomba, Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes, Lindi Ortega and many many more. Details here

Jack Carty is throwing Christmas party in Sydney this Monday with The Falls, Maples, Iluka, Rosie Catalano, Achoo! Bless You, Luke Wellington, Andrew Brown and James Blow. Details here

Imogen Clark has announced a co-headline tour of NSW this January and February with singer-songwriter Joe Mungovan. Details here

– More artists have been added to the Port Fairy Folk Festival lineup including Pieta Brown, The Waifs’ Donna & Vikki’s side project The Stray Sisters, the Quarry Mountain Dead Rats, The Flying Emus and many more. Details here

– Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder has announced dates for a solo Australian tour. Details here

– Singer-songwriter Cass McCombs has revealed his new single “Big Wheel”. Details here

Emma Davis has released the stunning new video for her stunning new track “Stand Tall”. Details here

– Americana singer-songwriter Robert Ellis has released his new single “Only Lies”. Details here

José González released his new video “Stay Alive” from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty soundtrack. Details here

Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes are heading out on tour in January to launch their new album Black Coffee. Details here

– Next April and May Boy & Bear will be heading out on a massive national regional tour. Details here

– Watch the new video from Darren Cross, “Hit The Quit”. Details here

– Adelaide folkies The Timbers have a new single, “Things to Come”, and are hitting the road throughout January. Details here

Simone Felice has revealed his new single “Molly-O!” featuring members of The Lumineers from his upcoming album Strangers. Details here

– The National Folk Festival has added a bunch more artists for 2014 including Rory McLeod, Old Man Luedecke, Tift Merritt, Heath Cullen, The Barons of Tang, Richard Perso and more. Details here

Blog

We revealed the top albums of 2013 according to Timber and Steel’s contributors. Read the piece here

Our favourite artists let us in on what they pick as their top album or EP of 2013. Read the piece here

Our Editor in Chief Gareth Hugh Evans chose his top 25 songs of 2013. Read the piece here

Gigs Next Week

April Maze w/ Cisco James
Tuesday 24th December – The Toff in Town, Melbourne, VIC

Festival of Small Halls w/ Jordie Lane and Rose Cousins
Friday 20th December – Degilbo Hall, Degilbo, QLD
Saturday 21st December – Boonarga Cactoblastis Hall, Chinchilla, QLD
Sunday 22nd December – Mt Mee Public Hall, Mt Mee, QLD

Jack Carty Christmas Party feat. Jack Carty, The Falls, Maples, Iluka, Rosie Catalano, Achoo! Bless You, Luke Wellington, Andrew Brown, James Blow
Monday 23rd December – 505, Sydney, NSW

Little May
Friday 20th December – Brighton Up Bar, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 21st December – Brighton Up Bar, Sydney, NSW

Summer Pickin’ Party feat. The Davidson Brothers, The Quarry Mountain Dead Rats, Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes
Friday 20th December – The Curtin Bandroom, Melbourne, VIC

The Morrisons
Thursday 26th December – The Vic, Sydney, NSW

Friday Folk Flashback

“Fairytale Of New York” – Christy Moore

Probably the greatest secular Christmas song ever sung by one of the greatest singers in the world. Merry Christmas everyone!

Porty Fairy Reveals Third Artist Announcement

Porty Fairy
Image Courtesy of the Port Fairy Folk Festival

Port Fairy has done it again with the revelation of its third artist announcement this week. An already impressive lineup has been bolstered with the additions of stunning American singer-songwriter Pieta Brown, The Waifs’ Donna & Vikki’s side project The Stray Sisters, frantic pickers the Quarry Mountain Dead Rats, alt-country legends The Flying Emus and a bunch more.

The Port Fairy Folk Festival takes place in Port Fairy, Victoria from the 7th to 10th March. For more information check out the official site here. The full second lineup announcement is below:

The Greencards, Justin Johnson, Pieta Brown, The Stray Sisters, Celia Pavey, Quarry Mountain Dead Rats, Recycled String Band, The Flying Emus, Tequila Mockingbirds

The Davidson Brothers Announce Summer Pickin’ Party This Friday

Davidson Brothers
Image Courtesy of The Davidson Brothers

Victorian bluegrass pickin’ siblings The Davidson Brothers are throwing a party this Friday and you’re invited. Along with fellow bluegrass pickers the Quarry Mountain Dead Rats and alt-country legends Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes, The Davidson Brothers will be taking over the Curtain Bandroom in Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria.

Tickets for the Summer Pickin’ Party are $20 and the music will kick off at around 8:30pm. For more information on the party check out the official Facebook event here. The details are below

Summer Pickin’ Party feat. The Davidson Brothers, The Quarry Mountain Dead Rats, Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes
Friday 20th December – The Curtin Bandroom, Melbourne, VIC

Review: JamGrass Festival 2013, Thornbury Theatre, Melbourne

Jamgrass
Image Courtesy of JamGrass

As I was boarding my plane to head down to Melbourne for the 2013 JamGrass Music festival I couldn’t help but wonder why I had chosen this event over countless others to devote my time and hard earned frequent flyer points to. On any given weekend there are countless of events around the country showcasing music from the folk, country, roots and acoustic genres (all the good stuff), many of which are within easy traveling distance of my home town – so why was I flying Melbourne stay in a dodgy hotel in the far flung northern suburbs for this one.

JamGrass is in many ways a unique event. An urban, indoor festival focused on a genre of music that is hardly cool (despite hipsters having a fondness for a banjo), JamGrass is almost the exact opposite of any other bluegrass festival in the country. But it works. And it keeps drawing me back.

I think the reason it works is that JamGrass has grown out of a community of like minded individuals. This is not a commercial venture, the folks behind the festival are not professional events managers and there’s no pressure to cram the latest and greatest indie kids into the lineup. JamGrass is about the music. It’s about the musicians. And it’s about the jams.

That’s not to say that JamGrass isn’t a slickly run festival. Its enviable two stage setup in the Thornbury Theatre means downtime between performances is kept to a minimum. The festival generally runs to time (day two this year started about half an hour late due to one of the bands getting stuck in traffic) and bands are ready to go pretty much as soon as the lights come up on stage despite the reputation bluegrass artists have for constantly tuning. So many other festivals around the country could learn a thing or two from JamGrass about how to program consecutive concerts.

And I haven’t even gotten to the lineup yet! JamGrass has grown up from the Melbourne bluegrass and jam scene so has its pick of the crop when lining up the local talent. Add to that the reputation JamGrass has established over the last couple of years, drawing in talent from around the country along with its proximity to other Australian Bluegrass festivals meaning it has access to touring international acts means the quality of acts is exceptional.

This year I took in the Friday and Saturday nights of the festival, flying out of Melbourne before the festival finished on Sunday evening. In the 48 hours I was in town I experienced some of the best bluegrass this country has to offer. Normally I’d pull out a list of highlights but to be honest every single moment of the festival was exceptional. I think if anyone was following me on twitter throughout the festival weekend would have seen just how excited I was:

If I’m pushed I’d have to say that of the artists I haven’t seen before I was absolutely blown away by singer-songwriter James Kenyon whose unique voice and alt-country songs were just stunning and The Company who seem to be redefining bluegrass for an Australian audience and whose musicianship is just a step above. In a sea of highlights Mustered Courage’s set on the first night stood out with appearances by The Quarry Mountain Dead Rats and Kat Mear (among others) and an impromptu conga line through the middle of the performance.

But I don’t want to take away from any of the other artists who played throughout the weekend. The Green Mohair Suits, The Steamgrass Boys and The Morrisons proved that Sydney bands can pick with the best of them. Jimi Hocking’s mastership of the blues mandolin was a welcome respite from the frantic picking of a lot of the other acts. From the USA, Patt and Possum were just superb with some extra special fiddle and piano based tunes. The Stetson Family managed to prove their multi-skilling by tweeting me from the stage while they entertained the crowd. The list just goes on.

I’ll be going to a lot of festivals between now and the next JamGrass Music Festival – in fact I’ve been to a couple already since JamGrass took place in October – but I’ll be hanging out to next year for JamGrass 2014. There’s just something very special about this festival and I’m so happy I was part of it this year.

JamGrass Festival Announces First Round of Artists for 2013

JamGrass
Image Courtesy of JamGrass

Of the myriad festivals we attended last year the one that stands above all would have to be Melbourne’s JamGrass Music Festival. Held over a couple of nights at the Thornbury Theatre ballroom JamGrass celebrated the best in local (and international) bluegrass, folk, alt-country, Americana and jam music and saw capacity crowds and some of the best collaborations on the festival circuit.

This year JamGrass has expanded to 3 days, from the 11th to 13th October, and the organisers have just announced their massive first round of artists for the lineup. Reading like a who’s who of Timber and Steel favourites the artists for this year’s JamGrass include Patt and Possum (USA), The Company, The Steamgrass Boys, The Green Mohair Suits, Papa Pilko & The Binrats, Quarry Mountain Dead Rats, Hardrive Bluegrass Band, Strzelecki Stringbusters (above), James Kenyon and John Flanagan & The Begin Agains.

This massive (and very impressive) lineup is just the first of three announcements in the coming months. JamBands Australia (who present JamGrass) have outdone themselves already so we’re really keen to see who else they have up there sleeve. For more information on the festival – including photos and videos from the last couple of years – make sure you check out the official web site here.

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